Non-existent wolves more important than schools – In Utah, a little fear-mongering goes a long way. Despite a sharply worded editorial from the Salt Lake Tribune and a hilarious cartoon, legislators are moving forward with plans to hand over another $300,000 in taxpayer money to the leaders of the rabidly anti-predator group Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife for anti-wolf lobbying. Keep in mind that Utah currently has no known resident gray wolves. And even though the Grand Canyon eco-region has been recognized by numerous scientific studies as great habitat for Mexican wolves, there is not yet any plan to reestablish wolves in northern Arizona or southern Utah. Meanwhile, funding for schools and other social programs is drying up faster than the Colorado River (see this comparison from Alliance for a Better Utah). The state gave Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and Big Game Forever $300,000 last year for their anti-wolf crusades, with no strings attached and no accountability for how the money was spent. Nobody seems to know what these groups are doing with all this taxpayer money, but here is what Don Peay, the founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, has proposed doing to wolves:
“I know what the sportsmen of Utah would do [about wolves]! Worse case, we would go to the PETA pound and save 1,000 dogs about to be killed by PETA and HSUS and stake them out in wolf areas – well fed and cared for of course – but when the wolves killed these dogs, get the wolves killed. Or we would go and buy a bunch of ba ba sheep, stake them out in five acre pens and when wolves killed them, get the wolves killed.” — Don Peay, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife
Finding the middle way – When dealing with the western wolf wars, it’s all too easy to pick a side (pro-wolf or anti-wolf) and ignore the rest. So it’s always refreshing when someone takes an outside perspective that sheds light on the vast gray area in between. A new wolf documentary from LinkTV’s Earth Focus does exactly that by telling the stories of the ranchers, tour guides, taxidermists and conservationists trying to chart a new path of coexistence between wolves and people. Defenders Rockies and Plains Director Mike Leahy offers some thoughts on how federal protections were unceremoniously removed from wolves without adequate state protections in place. Other long-time collaborators share their insights as well, including Carter Niemeyer, former wolf trapper and Idaho wolf recovery coordinator, Nathan Varley, Yellowstone wolf-tour operator, and representatives of People and Carnivores and the Blackfoot Challenge. Watch the full episode below:
And don’t miss UK journalist Jim Wickens’ blog series for a behind-the-scenes look at the people who bring this story to life.
New faces on Montana wildlife commission – Montana’s new governor, Steve Bullock, has appointed three new commissioners to oversee state wildlife management: Billings attorney Matthew Tourtlette, Chinook rancher Richard Stuker, and Wolf Point college director Lawrence Wetsit. We congratulate all three and look forward to working with them as well as returning commissioners Dan Vermillion and Bob Ream. Gov. Bullock has called on the commission to reinstate the wolf advisory council, which will hopefully steer the state away from ever-more aggressive wolf management practices.
OR7 headed back home – After spending more than a year in the Golden State, the lone male wolf known as OR-7 appears to be headed home…at least for a little while. State wildlife managers say he crossed from northeastern Siskiyou County in California to southwest Klamath County in Oregon Tuesday evening. Who knows where he’s headed next… You can keep track with updates from Oregon and California.
Pacific Northwest update – Washington State senators debated two wolf bills during their March 8, 2013 session. Senate Bill 5188 takes wolf-management authority away from the state wildlife agency and turns it over to local law enforcement. Senate Bill 5187 would allow property owners and their designees too much discretion to kill wolves that they speculate may be threatening their livestock. SB 5187 passed out last Friday with a vote of 25-23. This is the strongest no vote made in recent years on a bad wildlife bill in the Senate. Watch a televised hearing of the senate debate, including wolf champion Senator Kevin Ranker and other conservation minded leaders like Senator Christine Rolfes, beginning at the 13-minute mark. on the televised hearing: We are working with state legislators to defeat the anti-wolf bills in the House of Representatives.
Over in Oregon, Defenders is working with tribal biologists, ranchers and county extension agents at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla reservation in Pendleton. The tribe recently included a top news story on meeting with tribal officials last month.
Carl Scheeler, manager of the CTUIR Wildlife Program, said Defenders of Wildlife have been the Tribes’ strongest and most durable partner in the conservation community when it comes to wolf recovery.
“We’ve been working with Defenders since before B45 came into the state in 1999,” said Scheeler, referring to the first wolf that swam the Snake River from Idaho into Oregon. — Confederated Umatilla Journal